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A while back, I read large portions of the KOMA book and it in the authors talk about how most people can't recognize typography or type-setting in general. People shouldn't be allowed to change margins, line-spacing, fonts, etc.

Since I'm not comfortable making this decision myself, would you be able to recommend some good, Latex-compatible, preferably free fonts?

Nice ligatures and old style numbers are a plus (&, ff, fl, fi).

Also note, I only ever output my Latex files to PDF via xelatex.


EDIT: I'm looking for a general purpose font for writing prose---mostly letters, reports, books and articles. I'm looking for a font that could just as easily have been made the default. I'm looking for suggestions that wouldn't outrage your if they were made the default in Latex from now on. It should be a Serif font. Something like Georgia, Baskerville, Palatino, etc. But with all the Latex niceties.

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Asking the question "name a good (free) font" is about as productive as "name a good car" or "name a fine camera". Without knowing the purpose of your typesetting ambitions, it's simply not possible to provide a decent answer. Please consider augmenting your question to tell us more about the subject matter (schololarly articles?, poetry?, shock advertising?, wedding invitations?), the presence of any mathematics in your publications, the need for non-Latin characters (arabic? hebrew? thai? chinese? korean? etc.), and anything else you think may be relevant. –  Mico Apr 26 '12 at 10:40
What do you mean by “Latex niceties”? –  morbusg Apr 26 '12 at 11:16
@morbusg Proper quotes (which palatino doesn't have), fi, fl, Qu, kerning –  Honza Pokorny Apr 26 '12 at 11:18
Those all depend on the font and have nothing to do with (La)TeX. Palatino quotes are a matter of taste. –  morbusg Apr 26 '12 at 11:29

4 Answers 4

up vote 24 down vote accepted

Even among "general purpose fonts", there is such a large range of styles and characteristics to choose from -- plus, there are personal tastes and preferences to take into account (and one can't argue about tastes, right?!) -- that it's not possible to come up with a short list of fonts that will please everyone.

That said, I believe there's widespread agreement that the serif fonts cut in the late fifteenth century and throughout the 16th century (usually labelled "old-style" or "garalde" -- a contraction of "Garamont" and "Aldus") do exceptionally well in terms of readability. Many font families that have been designed over the past few decades consciously or unconsciously copy most of the characteristics of the garaldes. Hence, you may seriously want to consider fonts such as Palatino (by Zapf), Dante (Mardersteig), Sabon (Tschichold), and any number of Garamond look-alikes that are on the market.

A personal-favorite font that is general purpose, available free of charge, and feature-rich is Cardo. It is distributed in Opentype format and comes with bold and italic variants (but no bold-italic). In overall style, Cardo is quite close to the Bembo font. The latter font is based on a font used by Aldus to publish a tract written by a Cardinal Bembo in the 1490s and is considered one of the the premier "old-style" fonts.

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Thank you for responding like a normal person. –  Honza Pokorny Apr 26 '12 at 13:41
How do you get Cardo font files? –  Costanza Dec 14 '12 at 21:54
@Costi: You could click on the hyperlink in "Cardo" in the first sentence of the paragraph above; in the new page, click on the "this file" link to download the zip file containing the font-related files. Extract the font files. Just how they need to be activated depends on your computer's OS. –  Mico Dec 14 '12 at 23:00
@Mico: thank you. I have been using \usepackage[bitstream-charter]{mathdesign}, and I would like to change the font of the whole document into cardo. If I just type \usepackage[cardo]{mathdesign}, the font I get is not cardo. –  Costanza Dec 15 '12 at 8:01
@costi: please consider posting a new question, in which you describe your TeX setup -- which OS, which TeX distribution? That way, more people will see your question and have a chance to provide answers. –  Mico Dec 15 '12 at 11:32

There's really not many to choose from when restricted to free fonts, at least not when requiring italic, bold, bold italic, small caps, text figures, multiple optical sizes, good kerning, etc. That list diminishes even further when the need for maths is thrown into the mix.

That said, these are the ones I've found and used:

  • TeX Gyre fonts collection (GUST/URW++): Pagella for Palatino look-alike, Termes for Times look-alike, Schola for Century Schoolbook look-alike (this is among my personal favourites!), and others. These include many of the requirements listed above.

  • Adobe Minion Pro and Myriad Pro which come with Acrobat Reader. They are very good fonts, but these free versions lack some of the requirements listed above.

  • Charis SIL, I think it is rather nice on screen, but lacks text figures (old-style figures).

  • And when maths is a requirement, there is exactly one OpenType Unicode choice: STIX/XITS which includes everything. For an OpenType math font to be used together with other font, there are: Asana Math for Palatino-look, and Neo Euler for a hand-drawn -look.

  • For Greek, the Greek Font Society has many freely available faces.

So, my hat off to all those people who work on fonts. To our very own @Khaled Hosny especially; Thank you! :-)

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I’d like to upvote the last paragraph separate a second time! –  Speravir Apr 26 '12 at 18:49

There ist this resource for LaTeX: http://www.tug.dk/FontCatalogue/

But I recommend to consider Linux Libertine

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The Question is off-topic but anyway here are 2 resources:

Top 10 Typefaces used by book design winners

100 Best of Fonts

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Why do you think it's off-topic? –  Honza Pokorny Apr 26 '12 at 10:21
Because there is no good, unique, technical answer -- to a great extent, it's a matter of taste. So, sorry, this isn't really the place for it (although we all love beautiful typesetting!). –  Brent.Longborough Apr 26 '12 at 10:47
Yes, that makes sense. There is an element of technicality, though. Does the font do proper kerning? Does it include ligatures? Does it do old numbers? –  Honza Pokorny Apr 26 '12 at 11:00
There is an English version of 100 Best of Fonts –  Papiro Apr 26 '12 at 12:23

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